Kentucky Poison Control Center sees increase in cases related to disinfectants

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Kentucky Poison Control Center is reporting a surge in poisonings related to cleaners and disinfectants.

Last month, the Kentucky Poison Control Center of Norton Children’s Hospital saw a 30% increase in overall exposure calls related to disinfecting agents, including a 56% increase in poisonings from household cleaners and a 30% increase in poisonings from hand sanitizers.

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“The data shows many of the exposures are from consuming or inhaling these products,” said Maria Chapman, poison prevention coordinator with the Kentucky Poison Control Center, which also operates Kentucky’s COVID-19 Hotline. “We’ve had reports of young kids drinking hand sanitizer, as well as adults breathing in toxic fumes as they mix together combinations of cleaners.”

According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, poison control centers nationwide received more than 45,000 calls tied to cleaners and disinfectants during the last quarter, about a 20% increase. 

While the increase affected all age groups, children ages 5 and under were impacted the most. Complaints included shortness of breath, dizziness and vomiting.

Chapman said parents and caregivers can limit exposure to these poisons by:

  • Storing all household products out of a child’s sight and reach. Young kids often are at eye level with items under the kitchen and bathroom sinks.
  • Installing child safety locks on cabinets containing poisonous items.
  • Always following all instructions and warnings, and wearing eye protection.
  • Not mixing chemicals.
  • Not leaving poisonous products unattended while in use.
  • Never putting a potentially poisonous product in something other than its original container where it could be mistaken for something else.

The Kentucky Poison Control Center is staffed with toxicology-certified health care professionals 24 hours a day. They can determine if a child or adult can be treated at home or if they need to go to an emergency room. All calls and consultations are free and confidential.

The poison hotline is (800) 222-1222.

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